But women think about celebrities a lot. We read about them, we look at their pictures and we discuss their lives with our friends, sisters and mothers.
We’re on a first name basis with Gwyneth and Paris and Angelina. In fact, we only ever use surnames if the celebrity is called Jennifer, Jessica or Kate so we can distinguish one from the other twelve.
We feel sad for them when they’re dumped and we’re excited when they start a new relationship. We empathise when they get too fat or too thin. We’re a little bit smug when their plastic surgery looks terrible and we have constructive opinions on their best and worst haircuts.
Really, celebrities have become the new imaginary friends.
How did this happen? Well, celebrities are like us in so many ways. They are. Pick up a magazine and frolic in the orgy of photos that show Denise Richards buying toilet paper, Elle parking her car and Calista Flockhart dealing with her son’s supermarket tantrum. ‘I buy toilet paper, park my car and deal with tantrums too!’ is our subconscious thought. ‘That means I am not unlike Denise and Elle and Calista!’
And with so much of this practical stuff in common already, celebrities helpfully provide the minutiae that create intimacy. In interviews, they reveal juice about their relationships, their bodies, their children, their views on waxing and dozens of other personal titbits that women share when bonding.
And once we now know so much about them, it’s not a stretch to imagine ourselves intimately involved in the lives of these celebrities. As friends.
I’ve spent this week asking people who their imaginary celebrity friend might be. Women get the idea instantly and take to it with enthusiasm. Men, not so much. Men don’t even understand the question and look at me like I’m on crack.
‘My what? Celebrity what? Imaginary friend? What?’
Here’s the key: when picking your imaginary celebrity friends, you must distinguish between those you like reading about and those with whom you’d have stuff in common (beyond, say, the use of toilet paper).
For example, I think Kate Moss is a fashion goddess but our lifestyles are fairly divergent. I’d only want to be friends with her in the hope we were the same shoe size. When the cocaine, the threesomes and the junkies come out, I’m off home.
Imaginary celebrity friends (like actual friends) should also not be people you’d want to have sex with.
That’s different. Ditto their partners. You’d have to question the motives of someone wanting to be Angelina’s friend; using her to get into Brad’s pants is not proper friendship now, is it?
Although I have one friend who insists she get on famously with Brad himself, clarifying: “and not for sex.” No, of course not. “As mates. We’d get stoned together on the couch and we have the same taste in music.” I’m not sure how she knows what Brad’s musical taste is but nit picking is not in the spirit of playing Celebrity Friend.
Despite wanting to read about them, apparently no-one wants to be friends with Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Posh or any of the Stupid Girls – Jessica, Paris, Nicole Ritchie etc. Nor could I rustle much interest in Naomi Watts, Kylie, Charlize, Cate Blanchett, or Teri Hatcher.
Liking someone’s clothes, hair or boyfriend is not a solid foundation on which to build a lasting (albeit imaginary) friendship.
I have a friend who shares and worships Gwyneth Paltrow’s style but wouldn’t want to hang out with her because “I never exercise and I like red meat while she’s a tofu-eating, macro-biotic yoga freak.”
Drew Barrymore is a popular choice. As one woman put it “My friends have to have a ‘corker’ sense of humour, a slight substance addiction and be more than a size 8!” Kates Hudson and Winslet also get the thumbs up.
Fashion-famous Sienna Miller gets a few mentions as an imaginary celebrity friend – not so much because of her wardrobe but despite it. “Kiera Knightly and Sienna Miller would be good for drunken lunches,” observes one friend.
Although everyone who names Sienna as their friend agrees that the fashion intimidation factor would be extreme. “I’d like be friends with Sienna Miller but it would take me too long to get dressed in the morning on the days we did coffee in the West End,” another friend points out deftly. “I’m thinking she would send me into a complete wardrobe frenzy, causing me to spend all my money on clothes but still never looking quite ‘dirty cool’ enough….in fact would probably need stylist to keep that friendship intact.”
My imaginary celebrity friends are Jennifer Anniston and Courtney Cox. They’re already friends with each other so including me wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
I’d also like to be friends with Carrie Bradshaw although she is a character, not a real person so it doesn’t really count. Sarah Jessica Parker couldn’t be my friend because she’s notoriously prudish and wouldn’t tolerate my potty mouth. On that basis, maybe I’d have to be friends with Joan Rivers……oh dear.